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Trina Turk's Ship of the Desert
I spent the weekend in Palm Springs, taking in some events related to Modernism Week and enjoying examples of the desert modernism found throughout the area. I saw some wonderful modern architecture and design while I was there, which had me thinking the most successful modern interiors are usually to be found in vacation or second homes. The clutter and "stuff" of life does not distract from the clean lines and simplicity of modern furniture, allowing the designs to speak strongly. There is less worry about accommodating the workaday things of life and more about its pleasures, visual and otherwise.
One of the special places I visit was the house of designer Trina Turk, whose work epitomizes all that is modern, and her husband, Jonathan Skow, the photographer. Their house, named the Ship of the Desert for its resemblance to a ship, albeit one navigating from the side of a mountain, is an important and influential Streamlined Moderne house designed by architects Adrian Wilson and Earl Webster for the Davidson family (owners of an East Coast department store chain) in 1936. The house is not quite the original; the house was tragically destroyed by fire in 1998 when Trina and Jonathan first committed themselves to restoring it. Not deterred, they undertook the daunting job of rebuilding it from the original plans and meticulously replicating as much as they could, including details such as the unique sash windows in the living room that can be lowered into pockets located in the cellar floor below. They did a beautiful job.
Trina and Jonathan shared photos of the house that were featured in a 1936 issue of California Arts and Architecture. The original design is noteworthy for being like nothing that surrounded it at the time. Palm Springs back then, like much of California, was populated by Spanish Mission style houses. It can be said that their house was the start of all that came after.
I admire the bright, happy feeling of Trina and Jonathan's home. The everyday worries of life seem to fade away here.
For more images and background on the house, visit http://jetsetmodernist.tumblr.com/.